The dream of owning a house accompanies many people, but it does not always have to be a large single-family house with a garden and garage, the trend is more towards alternatives such as the tiny house. Tiny Houses are small mini houses, which are usually built on a trailer or in the form of containers, there are no classic shapes and almost all possibilities of construction or expansion are open to the builder and construction workers. In this article, we will show you the advantages of the tiny house and what you need to look out for when planning, building and applying for permits.
What is a tiny house?
The term Tiny House or Mini House includes small houses that usually only have a few square meters of space, but represent a fully equipped house with kitchen, bathroom and bedroom, most of these houses are built on wheels or a trailer to be able to be transported or even to be used permanently as a caravan. The size of a tiny house can vary from 8 to a maximum of 30 square meters and depends on the needs and financial resources of the residents. The small houses have a highly efficient space and work relationship on their small area, which enables life in a small area. The residents of the tiny house usually have different reasons for their decision to live. Some find an alternative life as self-sufficiency, fascinate others pursue the principle of the minimalist life and still others can simply no longer afford the high rents and prices when buying a house.
A classic tiny house concentrates on the essentials, in favor of great personal independence and financial freedom. However, it is questionable whether it can compete with the classic single-family home. However, the small house is seen as the ideal solution for combining a tight budget with the needs of having a home of your own without incurring a large debt. Therefore, more and more people are choosing to build a tiny house. In doing so, however, a few rules should be observed regarding permits, properties and wall thicknesses. One thing is clear: life in a tiny house is definitely allowed and is currently also in fashion.
The mobile home
The Tiny Houses have all the basic furnishing elements such as:
- shower and toilet
- Small kitchen with stove and drain
- a sleeping area
- Storage space for clothes and supplies
- work surfaces
- Electricity and running water
One of the greatest advantages of a tiny house is its mobility, most models can be driven to any location with a car and stay there for a longer period of time, depending on whether there is a permit for parking or not. If there is a permanent location for the tiny house, a regular electricity provider can take over the supply for the house.
Everything starts with planning
If you want to build your own tiny house, you can realize your ideas of living, living and working, but you shouldn’t just start building. As with any house construction, building a tiny house also requires good planning. First, you should look at ideas and concepts for existing mini houses. The construction concepts of the tiny houses usually follow two basic principles, the modular principle or the construction plan principle. Especially people who have not yet had much experience in construction should orientate themselves more towards the modular principle, as this is easier to implement and the permits are often issued more quickly. Our checklist for house planning will help you not to forget any important point when building your tiny house.
The prefabricated construction plans with instructions from the Internet are another help in planning and building, these mostly come from American providers who specialize in the construction of mini houses. With these plans, however, the user must ensure that the houses comply with the current building regulations or the road traffic regulations if they are built on a trailer.
The building permit and its exemptions
In general, every building of a house requires a building permit, regardless of how big or small the planned house is. If there is no building permit for the tiny house, it can alternatively be built on a trailer. If the house is on a trailer, it no longer falls under building law, but rather under road traffic law and therefore does not require a building permit. This means that other conditions such as development plans do not have to be observed, but new conditions apply. You can find more information about the Tiny House and the building permit in this article: Building a Tiny House yourself: Living in the smallest of spaces.
BUY TINY HOUSE WITH LAND
Finding a suitable plot of land to build a tiny house can be complicated and take a long time. So why not buy the tiny house on the property it was created for? There are many advantages to buying a tiny house. In this way, the building complies with the local development plan and you no longer have to worry about a building permit. In addition, the plots are often the perfect size of around 300 m². However, suitable offers are very rarely found. If there is no offer in sight, you can still buy your mobile tiny house a temporary pitch at the campsite and look around for a plot of land over the next few weeks and months while you have already moved in.
An overview of the costs for a tiny house
Even before the Tiny House is built, there are some costs, especially for the plot and materials. Here is a list of all cost factors:
- Purchase price for the property
- Broker, notary and land registry
- Real estate transfer tax and surveying
- if necessary, property development
- Cost of supply technology
- Official costs for building permits, land surveying, etc.
Due to the small size of the Tiny House, the costs for the construction and interior fittings are of course much lower than for a normal house. If the house is put on wheels, some costs are also eliminated and the trailer and the parking space must be paid for.
In order to save construction costs, disused shipping containers are now often recycled as basic scaffolding and clad accordingly, this saves material, time and protects the environment. Garden houses are also often converted and used as tiny houses. You should plan a lot of your own work for the interior decoration, due to the small size often no standard furniture fits into the tiny house or at least has to be modified.
The advantages and disadvantages of building yourself
Building your own tiny house naturally has many advantages and disadvantages that you should carefully weigh up against each other.
- Building it yourself saves money
- You can easily implement your own ideas
- Proud to have made a home myself
- Independence from companies and service providers
- Requires a lot of building skills
- It takes a lot more time
BUILD A TINY HOUSE YOURSELF
The most important requirement when building it yourself is that you have enough manual skills to carry out the diverse work. This saves you a lot of money for craftsmen. But it is also allowed and no shame to get professional help, because the task is quite demanding.
By the way: if you build yourself, you should also think about the time factor. Anyone who has to cope with a full-time job and raise children at the same time can quickly reach their limits here. You have to plan several months for the self-construction.
THE TINY HOUSE PLANNING
In order to be able to use the tiny house as intended after completion, you have to adhere to various government regulations. In many cases you will need an official building permit that is closely tied to your property. So you should first have a suitable Tiny House plot. It must be a fully developed residential property, even if your house is partially self-sufficient. Many municipalities also specify in development plans which type of house can be built. This can also affect individual house elements such as roofs. Also, here are some things to do when building a tiny house:
- If the bathroom and toilet have no windows, you must ensure alternative ventilation.
- If you are building a tiny house out of wood, a lightning protection system may be required.
- Depending on the federal state, there are additional rules to be observed regarding the approval process.
So doesn’t a tiny house on wheels need a permit? Yes, because unlike a stationary tiny house, you have to observe the requirements for a vehicle registration with the mobile version. These specify, for example, that the vehicle must not be heavier than 3.5 t when loaded. The dimensions are also crucial. A rolling tiny house must not be higher than 4 m and wider than 2.55 m so that it can drive on roads.
USE STANDARD TINY HOUSE PLAN
If you want to make it easy for yourself to build a tiny house, you should be trained in a special workshop or course. In the best case scenario, experienced builders and builders will show you how to proceed and how to safely circumvent the most common problems. Such offers are a good idea for anyone who is a beginner. But even advanced users can take a lot of useful information with them. In addition to instructions, in which you are supported step by step in building a tiny house, you can also use ready-made construction plans. You can find them directly with us, for example. We have put together a great collection of detailed blueprints for building your own tiny house. Just download it and start planning!
BUILD A TINY HOUSE WITH A KIT
In addition to ready-to-use models and shell structures, dealers also offer complete kits. In contrast to building it yourself, it saves you a lot of work, which saves time and effort. But kits are of course much more expensive. Incidentally, the term kit can easily lead to the false assumption that assembly would be child’s play. Remember that even kit houses still require skill and craftsmanship to build.
A TIP: THE TINY HOUSE WALL CONSTRUCTION
The walls of a tiny house are special: on the one hand, their layer structure must include cladding, frames and slats as well as vapor and water barriers. On the other hand, they should insulate very well, but good insulation needs space. The walls in the mobile versions should not actually be too thick, because this increases the total weight. In addition, the house could become too wide for the street. To get around the problem, you should resort to high-quality insulation materials. It is also worth building a stationary tiny house instead of a rolling model. Because you then do not need street approval, you can build it wider, so you can also allow thicker and more complex wall layers.
BUILD TINY HOUSE YOURSELF: THE COST
If you want to build a tiny house and do everything yourself, you can really save. With clever planning and a few recycled materials, the actual construction costs can be less than $ 2,000. A kit costs at least $ 5,000. Depending on the materials, equipment and comfort, the price can rise to a five- or six-digit number. For comparison, if the tiny house is ready to move into when you buy it, you have to pay at least $ 20,000.
BUILD TINY HOUSE WITHOUT A BUILDING PERMIT
Getting a building permit can be a nuisance due to the red tape. The good news is: you can build your tiny house without a permit! But so that you are exempt from this, you have to forego private property for setting up the tiny house. Also, you should not simply put the house on the land of friends, relatives or farmers, as this would require building permission again. To live in a tiny house without a permit, you have to switch to campsites. However, there are also important rules in this regard that you must adhere to in order not to risk any trouble. According to the development plan, the campsite should be approved for residential use. In addition, the living space must not exceed 50 m² and the maximum height is either 3.50 m or 4 m.
Alternatively, you can even use public parking spaces as a tiny house parking space. But here the rules are particularly strict. First and foremost, the rolling house may stand motionless in one place for a maximum of two weeks. But you cannot stay in it for that long, because the number of overnight stays allowed is one night. In addition, you are generally not allowed to put furniture such as garden chairs in front of the house.
If you only want to use the mobile tiny house on vacation, you can be happy, because a special building permit is then also not necessary. However, you must ensure that you can provide a parking space for the times outside of your vacation, for example a private parking space. However, your municipality can also give you specific guidelines in this regard and refer you to a special area.
THE DIFFERENT DESIGNS OF A TINY HOUSE
Anyone who lives in metropolitan areas knows the problem. Rent prices are rising into the priceless realm while hundreds of applicants compete for any reasonably affordable apartment. That makes looking for an apartment a lottery game. But buying a home is also increasingly becoming a financial adventure. This is ensured by the rapidly rising property or building prices. This trend is now spreading to rural areas – there is no end in sight. High time for alternative concepts. The tiny house philosophy is one of the most interesting.
TINY HOUSE IS MORE THAN A VARIOUS DESIGN
In the meantime, the idea of the tiny house has developed from a shadowy vision to a concrete concept that on the one hand contains a series of fixed parameters, but on the other hand leaves room for a large number of implementation variants. The tiny house is a recognized branch in architecture, which has led to a number of interesting concepts in prefabricated house construction. However, the small house must not be confused with a small house. This living philosophy has also developed into an international trend, but describes living areas of up to around 90 square meters. A tiny house that corresponds to the generic term usually only has a living space of between 15 and 45 square meters.
THE IMPLEMENTATION ARE SET WITH FEW LIMITS
The main difference between the Tiny House philosophy and classic architectural concepts for small buildings is the independence from a specific location. A classic single-family house, both as a prefabricated or solid house, is usually designed for a specific property. The tiny house does not have this definition. With the construction, whether self-made or as a professional design, it is not about the location, but exclusively about the design and achieving the highest possible compactness with the highest possible living comfort. Otherwise the concept would hardly be conceivable, because the Tiny House can also include moving it to another location from time to time. So the mini house can also accompany its owner on his move to another city. Another typical milestone in the life of a tiny house would be its positioning on the flat roof of another building or on a garage.
The design options are correspondingly diverse, above all the question of mobility. A small house can be designed to be stationary or mobile. The mobile version also allows two versions: as a trailer or self-propelled, for example built on a truck chassis or integrated into a bus. Nevertheless, the tiny house on wheels is not a motorhome in the traditional sense. Some models, especially in terms of width, exceed the maximum dimensions permitted by road traffic regulations and can only be moved within the framework of a special permit.
COLORFUL VARIETY OF STYLES AND MATERIALS
The Tiny House concept virtually calls for creative solutions, both for self-construction and for the design concepts of professional manufacturers. However, the tiny house movement, also known as the tiny house movement, is only just beginning. The first sensational models, such as the futuristic FinCube, the modular Coodo system with units from 9 square meters or the egg-shaped Ecocapsule with its huge panorama window, show where things will go in the future. Here are some concept ideas for small houses:
TINY HOUSE IN WOOD
Anyone who imagines designs for a small Swedish house or an alpine mountain hut is not completely wrong. The appearance of a tiny house depends of course on the owner’s taste. However, there are also modern versions of the wooden huts. Special manufacturers for prefabricated wooden houses in particular present appealing and comfortable mini house solutions. A popular, mobile concept here is also the construction trailer converted into a small house.
TINY HOUSE ON STILTS
This variant is also primarily a matter for specialist manufacturers, because stilt construction requires in-depth specialist knowledge of statics and materials. Nevertheless, the idea is captivating, especially when stationed in the wild (if a permit is available). The construction on stilts has two advantages: On the one hand, stilts mean a low consumption of floor space, because they do not require concreting of a supporting surface and do not cause soil sealing. Nature can develop freely under the house, from vegetation to deer crossing. On the other hand, tiny houses on stilts offer an excellent all-round view from an elevated position. A tiny house on stilts is like a tree house that brings its own tree with it.
TINY HOUSE IN THE CONTAINER
The idea of accommodating a tiny house in a 40 inch freight container in accordance with ISO standards is obvious. With around 25 square meters of living space, the container has ideal dimensions and is easy to transport thanks to its design, although it does not have wheels. After all, it is made to travel around the world on special semi-trailers or by ship.
Nevertheless, the decision to use a freight container as a tiny house should be carefully considered, because it lacks three important elements: an entrance door, windows and reasonable thermal insulation. Extensive structural measures are therefore required to create a cozy home from a container.
TINY HOUSE WITH BAY
The Tiny House construction methods with modules in particular deliver constructs in the final execution that present themselves through a bay-shaped, varied exterior. For example, the already mentioned Coodo system is ideally suited to create bay-like protrusions by arranging the individual modules over corners. All concepts that envisage the construction of a tiny house by stacking individual elements automatically lead to bay windows and thus to a maximum expansion of window areas, which in turn serves to brighten the interior.
TINY HOUSE WITH ROOF TERRACE
The fact that luxury is not an option when it comes to small houses is a mistake that has long been refuted. A roof terrace on the roof of the Tiny House in particular opens up additional living value that most large apartments cannot offer. Still, there are a few things to consider. Not every construction concept for tiny houses allows the roof to be used, for structural reasons alone. Also, a roof terrace usually only makes sense with non-modular, single-storey designs, if a maximum of space is available. But then the piggyback terrace on the roof is a great extension of the living space, especially if the house is on commonly used land and a non-visible open space is desired.
TINY HOUSE WITH CHILDREN’S ROOM
Small houses with 40 square meters of living space can be divided into two to three rooms. Tiny houses are therefore also an acceptable living environment for families. There is nothing wrong with setting up one of the rooms as a children’s room in order to offer the children their own living area. Nevertheless, the close living environment represents a certain restriction for the play instinct and the need for movement of children. The location of a small house for families with children therefore also depends on the environment. It should include secure open spaces to give the little ones enough space to run around.
These examples represent only a small selection of the possibilities a tiny house can look like. The range of varieties is unlimited: Tiny houses can be built on pallets, accommodated in circus wagons or train wagons, or designed as a rustic log house. They can also be supplemented with a garden and pool, if space is available. In the case of models from professional manufacturers in particular, there is already a large range of concepts, materials and design ideas available and the variety of models is growing. Anyone who is willing to limit their lifestyle to a few square meters will definitely find something suitable.
BASIC CONSTRUCTION, FRAMEWORK AND INTERIOR FITTINGS
The frame construction acts as a basic structure in every tiny house. This enables doors, windows and insulation to be inserted. If more space is required, a second level is used directly under the roof. This is mostly used as a sleeping area. When it comes to the shell, buyers can choose between several variants. The comfort variants such as a tiny house with a bay window or a tiny house with a roof terrace already have windows, doors and roof cladding. In addition, both variants are available as complete trailer solutions. The interior fittings can be coordinated with the customer’s wishes. They have a say in the equipment and division of the respective assemblies, such as storage space, kitchen, bathroom / toilet, lounge and work area as well as sleeping options.
MANY PATHS LEAD TO YOUR OWN SMALL HOUSE
Building a tiny house is also a challenge for ambitious do-it-yourselfers. There are not only technical reasons for this, but also legal reasons. Even a small house has to meet certain construction requirements and guidelines.
If you prefer to rely on the expertise of competent specialists, you have two options. Either you have your very own tiny house designed and built by an architect or you can use a prefabricated house model. There are now a number of manufacturers who specialize in small houses.
THE SMALL HOUSE AS EXPRESSION OF ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS
For many people who decide to live in a small space, ecological considerations are often the triggering impulse and thus also the cost savings that are associated with it. For them, living in a tiny house means sustainability, the smallest possible ecological footprint and the greatest possible cost savings. The smaller the living space, the cheaper it can be heated. Only the thin walls of the tiny houses stand in the way of saving heating costs. The insulation of a tiny house is often not necessary because it takes up too much space. Whoever builds a tiny house should still insulate it to guarantee a small ecological footprint.
The energy supply also remains manageable. In many cases, the electricity requirement can be covered by your own solar system. If everything goes well, there is even some surplus that can be fed into the grid, apart from public funding programs for self-generated electricity. Because the house is so small, it can be converted into a full-fledged passive house at very affordable costs. The initial costs for insulation and heat exchangers, which are also publicly funded, are offset by permanent savings through the zero consumption of heat.
TINY HOUSE – A LIFE ATTITUDE
Anyone who has made it comfortable for two in a four-room apartment will initially have to struggle with cultural adjustment problems when switching to a tiny house. The attitude towards life changes considerably, leading to a striking change in everyday conditions. Anyone who moves into a tiny house just for reasons of cost and without inner conviction will not be happy here in the long term.
What you really need to approach the subject of small houses is a series of conscious mental changes of location: a penchant for minimalism, the willingness to shed unnecessary ballast and the will to reduce your own possessions – sometimes in a radical way. If you’re a consumer-minded person, the decision to move into a tiny house can mean separating 80 to 90 percent of your belongings for you. Many convinced “smallhouses” report of transition phases that amounted to a culture shock. In retrospect, however, almost everyone who has dared to take the step perceives the transition as a decisive experience of relief and purification. Nobody can really imagine returning to their previous living situation.
A little tip for all those who do not want to part with the majority of their belongings in one fell swoop or who cannot decide what to move into the tiny house, despite all the overcoming: Renting a storage room, for example in one, helps for a transitional period Self-storage facility. Here you can accommodate everything that no longer fits in the new house, but on the other hand you believe that you cannot do without it under any circumstances. Let time decide. You can confidently part with what is still in the storage room after three months.